Studies on molecular mechanisms of growth inhibitory effects of thymoquinone against prostate cancer cells: role of reactive oxygen species.
Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2010 Jun ;235(6):751-60. PMID: 20511679
Padma Sandeep Koka
Thymoquinone (TQ), an active ingredient of black seed oil (Nigella Sativa), has been shown to possess antineoplastic activity against a variety of experimental tumors. However, the precise mechanism of action of TQ is not known. We investigated the mechanism of action of TQ in androgen receptor (AR)-independent (C4-2B) and AR naïve (PC-3) prostate cancer cells, as models of aggressive prostate cancers. Exposure (24-48 h) to TQ (25-150 micromol/L) inhibited the growth of both C4-2B and PC-3 cells, with IC(50) values of approximately 50 and 80 micromol/L, respectively. Within one hour, TQ increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels (3-fold) and decreased glutathione (GSH) levels (60%) in both cell types. Pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) inhibited both TQ-induced ROS generation and growth inhibition. TQ did not increase the activity of caspases and the caspase inhibitor, z-VAD-FMK did not decrease TQ-inducedapoptosis. Furthermore, although TQ treatment resulted in the activation of Jun kinase (JNK), pretreatment with the JNK inhibitor, SP600125, did not protect cells from TQ. However, TQ significantly up-regulated the expressions of growth arrest and DNA damage inducible gene (GADD45alpha) and apoptosis-inducing factor-1 and down-regulated the expressions of several Bc12-related proteins, such as BAG-1, Bcl2, Bcl2A1, Bcl2L1 and BID. In C4-2B cells, TQ dose dependently inhibited both total and nuclear AR levels (4-5 fold) and AR-directed transcriptional activity (10-12 fold). Interestingly, thissuppressive effect on AR was not prevented by NAC, which clearly suggested that TQ-induced cytotoxicity is not due to changes in AR regulation. These data suggest that TQ-induced cell death is primarily due to increased ROS generation and decreased GSH levels, and is independent of AR activity.